TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – Russia’s assault on Ukraine has quickly become the largest ground war Europe has seen in decades with an abrupt impact on Ukrainian students here in Tampa Bay working to keep in contact with their families overseas.
“People were waking up around 5:00 a.m. because of the bombings around the whole city,” said one student who spoke to her mother Thursday morning.READ MORE: Officials Investigating Two Possible Monkeypox Cases In Florida
Just before dawn Thursday, Russia’s attack on Ukraine was apparent with a series of airstrikes followed by long-range artillery invading the country from all fronts.
President Vladimir Putin threatened any country trying to interfere with “consequences you have never seen” during a briefing.
“They’re frightened, frustrated,” said Ivan Cherniavskyi, a student at the University of South Florida & Citizen of Ukraine. He was born in the capital of Kyiv and grew up in central Ukraine.
“My wife – she is Russian and many people have families on both sides and it’s a tragic event for both sides. I have all my family there so my parents and my small brother… who is 11,” he said. “I also have relatives in Hakko which is, right now, [one of the] biggest military zones.” His relatives, scattered across the country, say they can hear the sound of war as missiles launch nearby.READ MORE: Pinellas County Releases New Evacuation Zones
“It’s horrible to see planes above your head and hear explosions,” said Cherniavskyi
“You never know what to expect – if I will see my mom again or not,” said Karyna Builova, also a student at USF. She is from the southernmost part of Ukraine in Odesa. Her family is having similar experiences.
“Today I was on the phone with my mom but she told me yesterday she didn’t have Wi-Fi for a while, half of the city didn’t have electricity on so right now the whole city is basically preparing,” said Builova.
With Russian troops and tanks invading from multiple directions, civilians continue fleeing their homes in fear.MORE NEWS: Tampa Bay's Housing Market Sees Intense Bidding Wars
“Many roads are blocked. All airports are not working,” said Cherniavskyi “It’s horrible and I’m hurt and we’re.. we want to be heard. We hope it will make [a] difference.”